In loving memory of my little brother, Rafael who passed away yesterday morning. Though we are separated in flesh for a time you will always be with me bro.
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The chapter after victory is often a dark one. However it doesn’t have to be the last one.
I write this on one of those days for some. The day after Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving for many is a day of tremendous victory and joyous thanks and praise for all that the Lord has done on our behalf. Black Friday is usually a rip roaring, intensely wild ride for shoppers and comes after what is often a great day of family, friends, and fun.
Days like these are a back to back juxtaposition which displays the cyclical nature of life on this planet and an evidence of the seasons in which God gives life and takes it away.
I am beginning to see this more and more evidenced in my journey these past few years.
Last October, I was blessed by being given the opportunity to be a pastor at Torch Church. That was such a huge day and such a marvelous experience. I remember thinking that this was the beginning of a new day, beginning of a new chapter, beginning of a new era in my life. Victory.
Then there was the next chapter, the chapter after victory.
Shortly after that day, my little brother, Rafael had his first serious trip to the hospital.
I knew that this was the next conflict in a spiritual battle, the enemy was waging spiritual warfare on my soul. This was the enemy trying to knock me down as the Lord had lifted me up. It did not shake my faith but had my family all praying hard and expecting God to heal. On that day God healed and He healed big and I’m eternally grateful.
Then the Lord blessed my wife and I by moving us to a bigger home that at the same time would amazingly have us in a much better financial position. Victory.
Then the days to come would find my little brother back in the hospital. This time in a much worse state. For unexplainable reasons, he had suffered a severe stroke. He had intense swelling in his brain that almost killed him. According to the doctors, he’s living in his best case scenario today as he is non-responsive and yet awake, in a semi coma like state. The next chapter.
And now from the time that I write this, it has been two weeks since my church, had our first preview service of our new campus: Oasis Campus. It went well. Volunteers worked hard. Plans were fulfilled. People showed up. God was revealed. Jesus healed. Victory.
The Monday after this, the talks of hospice planning for my little brother Rafael continued. Thoughts of him no longer being with me on this earth continued. The desire to just sleep and sleep and sleep continued. I realized that I was being struck by a spirit of depression. The next chapter.
As I contemplate the spiritual roller coaster this life to the full has me on, I look back to scripture and I see the same pattern.
I see victory. I see attack.
I see triumph. I see trial.
I see success. I see depressed.
My mind’s eye first travels back to I Kings 18. I recall an Elijah there who took on the prophets of Baal with fierce and unabashed arrogance and confidence in the God who saves. He challenged his enemies, raised the stakes, and then he called upon the God who answered with fire setting ablaze a water soaked altar.
Shortly thereafter in I Kings 19, we find Elijah running and hiding from Jezebel’s decree that he would be killed like the prophets of Baal. It was shown clearly that even the great Elijah is susceptible to the spirit of depression. The next chapter.
If this were the last chapter, there would be no reason for me to be encouraged. If this were the last scene there would be nothing to look forward to. However there is another chapter. The story does continue. This does not have to be the end.
It was not the end for Elijah, when an angel of the Lord came again to him and said “Arise and eat; because the journey is too great for thee.” I Kings 19:7
Then we find Elijah confronted by the Lord. The Lord seeks him out and calls him to look at where he is, and I believe it is in relation to where he should be.
God calls him to “stand upon the mount before the Lord. And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake: And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.” I Kings 19:11-12
He would soon be on mission again for the Lord anointing leaders and prophesying God’s truth.
Can it be that the trial that we find ourselves trying to recover from Is like the strong wind, the raucous earthquake, and the burning fire? And yet the Lord’s voice is on the other side of each of those in this still and quiet nature, small enough to be dismissed but profound enough to be heard if sought out. His voice that calls us to our next step of obedience, His hand that touches us and calls us to rise up and be fed. In our “chapter after victory,” God has not abandoned us. The same God through who we found victory, comforts and heals in the subsequent struggle.
Are you too in a next chapter of sorts? Are you feeling stuck in the chapter after victory? Feeling like your highlights are now all relegated to memories?
Well you are not alone. Elijah was there. I am there now.
The reality is: every highlight you will ever have will always be a memory of the past.
Here’s what I know to be true, even as I write in the midst of my chapter after victory, with Jesus our best days are yet to come.
Did you let that soak in?
That means: If YOU are in Christ your best days are ahead of you. God doesn’t do retirement. He is always upgrading, always restoring, always re-creating. Don’t feel like your last victory will be you LAST victory. If you are breathin’, it’s for a divine reason. Wait out the wind, withstand the earthquake, just after the fire you will find God’s purposed direction that will lead to your next victory.
All we can do is to do all we can do. God’s voice will not only give direction, but breathe life. WAIT FOR IT and follow.
So determine with me that we will:
There are more chapters left to be written.